Anti texting-while-driving law takes effect July 1

By Matt Butner - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you enjoy texting while driving, you have only one more week to do it legally. A new law that takes effect July 1 will outlaw it.

The new law is based on some unique research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. In the Virginia Tech study, 100 cars in northern Virginia were outfitted with video cameras and other instruments that allowed researchers to witness crashes with their own eyes. What they found led them to one conclusion:

"Anything that takes your eyes away from the forward roadway is going to increase your risk of being in a crash or near crash," said Dr. Charlie Klauer of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Dr. Klauer suggets that there is only one safe way to engage in potentially distracting behavior, if you absolutely have to text someone right away, you need to pull over.

"When you're texting, you have to look up and down, up and down- all of that is cumulative.  You are continually missing critical information, where hazards could be coming in front of your vehicle, and you're going to miss it," said Dr. Klauer.

Over the 13 months of the study, researchers were able to document 82 crashes.

"That's one of the more interesting things about our study, that we were actually in the vehicle and saw the behavior in the seconds leading up to the crash or near crash," Dr. Klauer said.

Another study by Dr. Klauer's team concluded that distracted drivers are to blame for up to 80 percent of crashes on Virginia's roads. One driver we spoke to, while she admitted to occasionally texting while driving, thinks the new law makes sense.

"A friend of mine got in a car accident when texting and driving, and I see people do it that drive like idiots, so I think it's best not to," said driver Vicky Watson.

Again, the texting law goes into effect July 1, that's next Wednesday. Like with Virginia's seatbelt law, texting will be a secondary offense, punishable by up to a fifty dollar fine.

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